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CCN Focus: Israel Emmanuel, Century College

As a part of the National Convergence Technology Center (CTC) featured blogs, we would like to introduce to you some of our professors and instructors in the Convergence College Network (CCN) community. The CCN is a select cohort of community colleges and universities from across the country that connects IT educators with a wealth of resources to enhance their programs. In this week’s Q&A blog, we’re featuring Israel Emmanuel an IT InstructoratCentury College in White Bear Lake, MN.

What do you teach?   I teach in the cybersecurity program and big data. 

How long have you been a teacher?  I’ve been teaching since 2002. From 2002 to 2004, I taught at Globe College in Oakdale, MN; and 2004 until now, Century College in White Bear Lake, MN. Mostly IT since 2002, because there was nothing like cybersecurity around that time. Then after that I left the college that I was teaching for went to Century College and It was still basic IT. Then 2007, I started taking computer forensics; 2009, started teaching virtualization and cloud computing; 2010 we started getting a little bit more into cybersecurity; 2012, full blown cybersecurity and malware. And in 2017 is when we had big data.

What did you do prior to teaching? I was a system engineer worked in computer support, system support, networking. 

What sparked your interest in teaching?   It was an accident. I wish that I could tell you that it was something inspirational, but no. I was looking for a job and they mistook me for a student, and I told them that I wasn’t a student. They asked if I would work for them, I said yes and that’s how I got started.

What is the secret to successfully teaching IT to students?  One of the most effective secrets is partly to have industry experience combined with continuous education, I think is probably the secret.

What’s the biggest challenge teaching IT?   If you don’t have the industry experience it’s hard because you’re teaching someone else’s theory that you don’t know yourself, and you don’t know the challenges that they’re going to face in the industry. On the other hand, if you have the industry experience and you are not continuously teaching yourself, you can become stale. Also, the emotional expect of it, every time I take classes I go through what my students go through. And it’s kind of help you be a little bit more compassionate and a little bit more understanding of what they go through. Right? When you sign up and take the class yourself, you realize how you have to juggle your life with school, study, reading and everything. You quickly understand that if they have to cope with all of that they’re not necessarily a traditional student. The traditional student goes to college and they have all the time to study. They don’t have to do anything but study. But when you have a none traditional student who has family, husband, kids, wife, school, all kinds of other stuff going on in their life. It’s not liked a traditional student.  That’s the challenge with a non-traditional student, you must understand where they’re coming from. Otherwise, you just make them hopeless. They might have a good brain, but they also have some other competing priorities and that makes things a little bit difficult for them. It helps to know how to approach the students and be a little bit more compassionate, a little more lenient and not be too strict.

How has the CCN helped you? Not just in IT, but also for learning big data. CCN has helped with linking me up with other faculty, resources, additional resources, summer training and that has really been one of the platforms that has helped me to develop in these new programs. Otherwise, many of those programs would have been difficult to develop or I might have not developed them at all if it wasn’t for convergence network.

What is the best thing about being a part of CCN?  You’re able to share resources. You’re able to tap into the abundance of shared resources. You know what other colleges are doing, sharing curriculum. You don’t have to “reinvent the wheel.” You can quickly leverage other people’s understanding of the problem that they have solved and then use that and take the solution and just apply it instead of solving an old problem that has been solved already.

What advice would you give a new community college joining CCN?  Take advantage of the Summer Working Connections. That’s a tremendous opportunity because you get a chance to meet all the faculty, and they see you face to face. You don’t have to try to send email; you get instance feedback, and when they see you face to face the reaction is very different. I would say attend the Working Connections that’s probably the most valuable benefit of the convergence network.

Is there anything you would like to suggest improving the CCN program? To continue to offer new courses. I know that they’re doing that and it’s not very easy to add new courses, but I think it’s helped because for those that have been attending for some time within four years you can go through all the available courses. And then, if there are no new courses, there may not be anything for you to take. Updating those courses as well, might be very, very helpful. Or even the old courses, when those courses are updated, I think they should let the members know that the courses have been updated and it’s not what you use to know. That will help people to go and say that I need to go and retrain.

How do you see the IT landscape changing in the next 5 years?   I think cloud is going to be even more involved in everything we do. I think IT is going to be expected to come with knowledge of security. I think identity access management is going to be a big deal because of the movement to the cloud. Those are the things that I think are going to be a big deal for us.

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